The Brazilian banking sector has been following the lead set by its North American counterpart, with smaller banks and even national-scale banks being swallowed up by larger, better-heeled competitors. This has led to a very competitive banking environment in which it is harder than ever for banks to perform well.
The one exception has been Bradesco. Under the leadership of Luiz Carlos Trabuco, the firm has managed to slightly increase its market cap over the last decade, a significant accomplishment in a market where many Brazilian banks are being bought up or going bankrupt. The bank has also nearly doubled in size under his watch. With over 5,000 branches and $50 billion in revenues, Bradesco is now the largest bank in Brazil, using various select metrics, and the second largest bank in the country by assets. Trabuco has lent his expertise to growing the company under tough circumstances. But his predecessors also are due a great deal of credit, particularly Mario Cypriano, who grew the company from just $5 billion in assets to over $30 billion in just under a decade.
Still, Trabuco has won various awards in his time with the firm for his visionary leadership and ability to navigate in tough markets. He was able to grow the insurance arm of Bradesco by significant margins while heading Seguros Bradesco. He also walked away with the Isto e Dinheiro Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2015 for his completion of the HSBC Brazil acquisition, a move that put his company back in the running for the title of largest banking conglomerate in Brazil.
An old-fashioned executive
Unlike many of today’s top global executives, Trabuco rose to the top slot of his company the old fashioned way, through hard work and promotion. He started working at Bradesco all the way back in 1969, when he was just 18 years old. Starting as a bank teller and then moving through a series of managerial positions, representing nearly all of the bank’s business lines, he eventually reached his first executive role in 1992, at the age of just 41. He was placed at the helm of Bradesco’s financial planning business.
While running that department, he was able to grow the business considerably, eventually causing it to make up nearly 30 percent of all of Bradesco’s revenues. His fastidious attention to detail and capable leadership did not go unnoticed. By 2003, he was one of the front-runners to take over the slot of the retiring head of Seguros Bradesco, the insurance arm of the banking conglomerate.
He got the job. While heading the bank’s insurance department, he again proved to be a visionary executive, growing the business by nearly two times and eventually leading it to comprise more the 40 percent of Bradesco’s total revenues. During his tenure, Bradesco Insurance also became the single largest underwriter of consumer insurance policies in the country, marking a significant accomplishment in a new business line for a bank that had purely traditional banking roots. Again, his stellar performance in the executive suite put him in the running for the top spot at Bradesco corporate when his boss, Mario Cypriano, was forced to retire in 2009.
Again, Trabuco’s long and stellar track record gave him the confidence of the board of directors. In 2009, he was appointed global CEO of Bradesco, marking an incredible rise for someone who literally started at the lowest job in the company and worked his way through the ranks. It is this Brazilian Horatio Alger tale that makes Trabuco’s story so compelling to many at the firm, who would love to someday follow in his footsteps.